⟨ Misc ⟩

Before the Beginning

Lisn incense

Words & Photography / Jas Tse
Translation / Nicole Go

早上起來,從拉伸開始喚醒熟睡,梳洗後到廚房泡咖啡。這邊仍像夏天,咖啡的熱氣蒸出頸背汗水。知道嗎,頭髮只要過了某個長度後就會悄悄地驚人成長,像有個隱形的刻度,只要跨過就能直進。就像是,在這之前都是試煉你的耐心。

拿著咖啡走進房間,我閉眼劃了一個圓,裡面聽不到紛擾,隨著頭仰起、放下,頭腦裡有一絲絲飛到了窗外。才突然看到眼前的角落有些凌亂,待會就要整理。這個發現每次都會出現。

在點香之前常常是在預備,煙飄起就像個開始。各種開始。譬如做一件重要的事之前。又或內心煩擾,都會點起香來,有時半枝就足夠平定。以前沒點香的習慣,卻打從接觸到這個香枝品牌後,它的氣味讓人念念不忘,每種都乾淨地表現自己,毫不含糊。

Waking up in the morning: stretching, freshening up, making coffee in the kitchen. It’s still summer over here; my neck and my back beaded with sweat from the steam of the coffee. Have you noticed how the hair seems to grow faster after a certain length? It is as though there was an invisible threshold – everything before that was but a test of one’s patience.

I bring my coffee to the room and, with my eyes closed, draw a circle in my head. All is quiet within the circle. As I finally look up, strands of thought go out the window. Like so many times before, I notice the mess in the corner, and make a mental note to tidy the room afterwards.

I often find myself in the middle of preparing something before I light an incense. The fumes signal a beginning, or various beginnings – of an important task, or angst, but half an incense stick of time suffices to calm me down. This ritual of mine emanates from an encounter with the unforgettable scents of LISN – each a univocal self-expression.

那是京都百年香鋪松榮堂的子品牌「Lisn」,有「Listen」之意。介紹這個線香品牌給我的人笑謔自己是驗毒體質,她若點的是質素不佳的香便會立即肚瀉,也因此能很放心地使用。

他們每年都會製作新的氣味,現在共有一百五十款氣味的線香。家裡的我會混著一起放,隨意抽一枝或看顏色選擇當天的,名字很有意思。Awakening、Whisper drops、Largo、Always⋯
按名字在品牌網站搜尋,會讀到屬於每枝香的一小段故事或詩與圖像。

在沒什麼想法,或想法太多的時候,都很適合讓意料之外走進來。讀讀別人的故事,讓故事裡的韻律在心裡運轉,會發現很多幽默偷偷藏在背後,像一道旋轉門,只是常常不是透明的。

Derived from the word “listen”, LISN is a specialty branch of Shoyeido, Kyoto’s renowned 300-year-old incense company. A friend recommended LISN to me on the grounds that their designer incense had passed her “quality test”: she gets diarrhea when she uses incense of poor quality.

There are more than 150 scents in the LISN range, with a new scent being released every year. At home, I put all of the incense sticks together and choose the scent of the day at random, or by colour according to the weather. The sticks are embossed with enigmatic phrases like Awakening, Whisper drops, Largo, and Always. A corresponding story or imagery can be found by searching through the catalogue on LISN’s website.

The element of surprise makes a refreshing change to the absence – or excess – of thought. To read other people’s stories is like walking through a tinted revolving door – you’ll never guess the humour that awaits on the other side.